What do we need to do to BEAT Edwardstown?

The Interclub competition

Since I joined the Blackwood club in 2007 there has been an annual inter club competition between ourselves and Edwardstown.  It is an interesting night as you get to see how well your images fare in the greater competition.  Pictures that scored 10 in our club competition may only score 5 or 6 in the inter club.  Of course part of this is due to the vagaries of the judging, but also it  is because the image is being set against a higher standard.  It’s like our end of year competition pegged against Edwardstown end of year.  To my knowledge we have never won this yearly challenge.

Choice of images

As a former member of the committee I have attended meetings in which 300+ images need to be restricted to our best 100.  These images were at times selected by committee members, and at times were submitted by members.   The task can be frustrating as no one  sees the selection the same way that I do.  Choices have to be made and good images get left out.  Perhaps weak images are included.  I am however amazed that the group  seems to select a better body of work than I could.  Better than probably any individual within the group.  We however had a few principles that we tried to adhere to.  You could not vote for your own work.  You must include at least 1 image from everybody who took the effort to submit work.  Winning was less important than being inclusive.

Egalitarian theory of contributors.

“The problem is that they (Edwardstown) have a handful of talented contributors who submit 90% of their images.” I have heard it argued.  “While we try and pick at least one image from every member in the club.”  That may have been true.  However in recent years the presidents of the respective clubs have agreed to a ruling that limits the number of entries per contributor to just 2.

In recent years the Edwardstown club has  grown significantly, particularly in their talented photographer category.  Unfortunately they now have more than enough talented contributors to put together a very competent body of work.  What about us?  Surely we have a large pool of photographers from which to draw upon.

The Good Photographers

We have suffered some attrition as good photographers have left the club in recent times.  People come and go for their own reasons.  There is no blame in this area.  Fortunately as people leave, their space in the competition is quickly filled by upcoming work from the existing photographers.  As people contribute to the competitions the standard improves and we have developed some good talent from the grass roots.  I personally have been impressed by the standard of people who have been contributing for a while.  This has always been a strength of our club.  I guess at the end of the day, “the good photographers” are all of us, not just a select few.  We should never lose faith that we are actually the good photographer in the club.  We can all produce stunning work.  Why else are we here?

The SAPF competition

I did note that a number of the Edwardstown images had also appeared in the catalog for the SAPF competition.  Do they have an unfair advantage in this area?  We have also had contributors to this competition, but perhaps not so many in recent years.  I am sure that the experience of entering a higher level competition does a lot to refine and improve the standard of the work.  I think this is one area that may help us in the quest to beat Edwardstown.

Participation is everything

So does it really matter?  Perhaps it is not really important in the grand scheme of things.  I don’t think this is right.  As Sam Savage said to me once, “participation is everything”.  We improve our photography, enjoy our photography and connect with other photographers once we start contributing.  If you have never put an image into one of our competitions – just give it a whirl.  It may be risky, as you could get criticized by the judge.    However,  you also get to complain about the judge over coffee, and you may also get encouragement and tips on how to tweek your images.  Occasionally someone catches the vision you had for that image.   You may get a 10!  In the end you become part of the team.  Is it worth beating Edwadstown?  Of course it is.  Not for the victory, but because it’s not worth doing things half hearted.

There is more than a 10

So what do we need to do?  You know the competitions are a little bit trivial.  A judge arranges the assembled images according to his preference.  A 10 is not a perfect image, it is the best one presented on the night.  To get a 10, all we need to do is to be better than the other images.  If that is all that we aim for, that is the best we will ever achieve.

I believe that we need to aim higher.  We need to push the 10 higher and higher in our club.  It is wrong to say that the good photographers and the good images are too good.  We should be proud of the quality of our images, and be pushing the limit higher.  Surely to come second to a stunning image is better than coming first when there is no competition. We need to experiment with newer techniques and strategies.  The judges may not understand the new forms of photography.  It is our responsibility to change their point of view.  We need to be working on the idea and creating better results.  We should always be trying something new and experimenting with new forms and techniques.

Be Brave

Lastly, have no fear.  Fortune favours the brave.  We are all uncertain, but no glory comes from holding back.  Uncertainty and fear need to be quelled.  We put our best foot forward and see what come of it.

Summary

How do we beat Edwardstown.

  1. We need to believe that we are the good photographers in the club
  2. We need more people to participate in the competitions and excursions etc.
  3. We should enter the SAPF and other higher level competitions.
  4. We should aim to score higher than a 10
  5. We should not be backward in coming forward. (Be brave)

and whether we win or not, I believe we will enjoy our photography more.

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